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Aurum Labs in Durango receives state certification for hemp testing

Company also seeks nod from Drug Enforcement Agency
Luke Mason, co-owner of Aurum Labs, examines control samples used to calibrate equipment used to test recreational marijuana products at the firm’s lab, which is now located in Bodo Industrial Park. The company has received a state certification to test hemp, and is now seeking approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. (Durango Herald file)

Aurum Labs, a cannabis testing facility in Durango, received a new certification through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct hemp compliance testing for manufactured industrial hemp products.

Recently, CDPHE added new compliance measures to its hemp testing certification. Aurum Labs was one of the first two cannabis testing facilities in the state to come into compliance with the new regulations.

“This certification is part of a new set of regulations that were put out by CDPHE earlier this year, that really placed formal regulations on the final product of industrial hemp products made in Colorado,” said Luke Mason, lab director and owner of Aurum Labs.

Aurum has been a marijuana testing facility since 2014, and has legally tested hemp products under its marijuana testing certification from CDPHE.

“These are new regulations that have their own unique laboratory requirements and certification program,” Mason said. “For the most part, it’s very similar to what we have to do for our marijuana certification.”

Before the separate certification for hemp products, all final product testing for industrial hemp products was voluntary.

“There was a lot of consumer pressure from CBD consumers to have final products tested,” Mason said. “There was already a high degree of voluntary testing of final products to begin with, but now that it’s mandated if a product hits the shelves you can bet that it’s passed a certain criteria of test.”

Since the federal government legalized the production of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, Aurum Labs has been in the process of certifying its testing facility with the Drug Enforcement Agency to test industrial hemp products on a federal level.

“I never in my life thought I would be begging the DEA to come inspect my marijuana testing facility,” Mason said.

Mason went through all of the paperwork to have the DEA come and inspect his laboratory, but was advised by the government agency not to go through with inspection at the time.

“We were all set up for an inspection, and the field agent called me the day before, and said ‘Hey, I think we should postpone this because I do think I can make it down to inspect, but you would be leaving in handcuffs,’” Mason said.

Being a marijuana testing facility, Mason has a lot of marijuana at his labs that is legal by state standards but not federal standards.

“We’re totally in compliance with state laws,” he said. “The security protocols and requirements that the Marijuana Enforcement Division places on us are nearly similar to what DEA wants. At the end of the day, it’s a chicken or the egg scenario. If they come here, we’re going to have a lot of delta 9 THC, a controlled substance, that we didn’t ask them permission for.”

Now, after years of back and forth, Mason believes he and the DEA have worked out all the kinks, and Aurum Labs will likely be approved by the DEA for industrial hemp testing soon.

“We’re basically waiting on some giant metal storage lockers. ... As soon as we get those lockers installed, and include photos in our application, our application will be sent off to Washington,” Mason said. “The Denver DEA office has told me they have no guarantees that this will be approved, but it looks good on their end.”

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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